Hannah Graham and staying safe on campus

SafeTrekappphotoBy Libby Ward
Her name has made major headlines across the US in only a matter of weeks, but if you don’t know who Hannah Graham is, you’ll be sure to remember her name for your own safety. On Sept. 13, Graham, a second year student of University of Virginia, went missing and still has not been found. According to CNN’s timeline of when she was last seen, Hannah was having drinks with a man around 1 am that none of her friends seemed to recognize. Unfortunately, cases like this frequently happen to young men and women in college and all are easily preventable. Remember this, your friends are your life line when you leave the dorm for the weekend.
Though not much else is known of the circumstances surrounding Graham’s disappearance, one can take away these safety tips from Lorraine Savage’s article written for cengagebrain.com, Campus Safety Tips for College Students.
She lists her tips with small explanations to follow and below are some important tips for a drinking-aged student to remember:

  • Watch your drink. A date rape drug can be slipped into an unattended soft drink or alcoholic drink. To protect yourself: don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know, always get your own drink, or drink from an unopened bottle or can. If you’ve left your drink unattended, discard it and get a new one.
  • Don’t get drunk. Stay in control and stop when you’ve had enough. You’re vulnerable when you don’t have the full use of your senses. If you’re feeling sick, ask the party host if you can stay there until you’re feeling better. Or ask a friend you trust to help you get back home.

For Graham, her fault was not so much in her drinking, but not keeping her friends close by. When you find yourself alone on campus, intoxicated or not, what is your best solution? Though not many people think to call campus police for this, they do offer escorts from the civic center back to your dorm for the added peace of mind. Further down the line, another option would be to call a friend and keep them on the line until you have arrived to a well-lit area or nearer to a campus police call box.
Other methods of keeping yourself safe include several Android and iPhone apps that ensure your safety.  An app such as SafeTrek ($1.99), allows you to press and hold a button on your screen until you feel safe, and it is worth the cost for how much safety assurance it provides. If you let go of the button in case of an emergency, the app will automatically alert the local police and give them your last GPS coordinates. There is a pin you must enter once you let go of the button to alert the app that you are safe.
The end note of this story is this; Ms. Graham’s situation is tragic and one can only hope for the best possible outcome, but a lesson of common sense and situational awareness can be learned by all college-aged students looking for a fun weekend with friends.
To learn more about SafeTrek and what they’re all about, visit http://www.safetrekapp.com/#/about.
News sources on the disappearance of Hannah Graham are provided by MSNBC.